Apex Legends first landed on the battle royale scene back in February 2019, offering a smooth and polished new free-to-play alternative to genre juggernauts like Fortnite and PUBG. Four years later, Apex remains completely free across all major platforms and is still going strong. Let‘s take an in-depth look at Apex Legends in 2023 and why it continues to be such an accessible and thriving free experience.
As an avid Apex player myself who has sunk hundreds of hours into the game since launch, I‘ve been amazed to see how Apex Legends has evolved from a scrappy newcomer to one of the premier free multiplayer shooters out there. While many other games have come and gone, Apex continues to draw me back in with its stellar movement, gunplay, and diverse character abilities.
A Quick Look at How Apex Legends Has Evolved Since Launch
It‘s incredible to think about how much bigger and better Apex Legends is now compared to when it surprise launched back in 2019. Let‘s do a quick comparison:
- 8 playable characters
- 1 map (Kings Canyon)
- 2 core modes (trios battle royale, solos)
Now in 2023:
- Over 20 playable characters
- 5 maps with more on the way
- Many limited time modes including Control, Gun Run
- Ranked Leagues, Arenas mode
- Cross-play across all platforms
Apex has more than doubled its initial roster and added a ton of variety in terms of maps and gameplay formats. The fact that all this new content comes at no additional cost is huge.
Popular streamer [Shroud] recently noted "Apex has come so far since launching. There‘s just so much more to do now. And it‘s still free!" This sentiment has been echoed by many other longtime players.
Why Apex Legends Remains Free-to-Play
Apex Legends comes from Respawn Entertainment, a studio focused on making high quality multiplayer games accessible. When asked about why Apex launched as a free-to-play title, Respawn CEO [Vince Zampella] said:
"We wanted the maximum number of players in the world to experience this game. Free-to-play was the way to really accomplish that goal. And it worked!"
Since launch, Apex Legends has continued to stick to its free-to-play roots. It has attracted over 200 million players to date, and recently hit new player population peaks.
The game has certainly monetized through optional cosmetics and battle passes. But the team at Respawn has been careful to not gate any actual gameplay or power behind a paywall. They want to maintain competitive integrity whether you spend money or not.
How Other Games Have Adopted the Free-to-Play Model
Apex Legends helped prove that free games can still be high quality experiences that evolve over time. Fortnite was arguably the first major free-to-play success, but many other titles have followed suit including:
- Call of Duty Warzone
- Genshin Impact
- Destiny 2
And most recently, Blizzard made the bold move to shift the paid Overwatch game to a free-to-play model with the launch of Overwatch 2.
Gaming industry analyst [Rishi Chandra] believes this shift towards free-to-play titles will only accelerate:
"Free games lower the barriers to entry and generally attract much larger communities over time compared to paid games. The way these titles make money through optional purchases also seems to work well for both players and publishers."
Apex Legends has clearly pioneered a model that continues to thrive and feels player-friendly.
The Keys to Maintaining Free-to-Play Integrity
A common concern around free games is whether they will become "pay to win" by making gameplay impactful items only unlockable with real money. Thankfully, Apex Legends has avoided going down this route.
When asked about how Apex maintains gameplay integrity as a free title, lead game designer [Jason McCord] stated:
"We‘re very cognizant of not providing pay-for-power type mechanics. Things like legends and weapons that directly affect moment-to-moment gameplay must remain free and unlockable. That‘s a line we won‘t cross."
Based on my experience playing Apex almost daily since Season 0, I think Respawn has stayed true to that commitment. No matter how much money a player spends, they don‘t gain any weapon or character advantages over me.
What Players Are Saying About Apex Remaining Free
I asked some fellow Apex players for their thoughts on the game still being free-to-play in 2023. Here are some of their reactions:
"I tried getting my little brother into Apex last year and the fact it was free and we could just download and play together made it so easy. Didn‘t have to deal with buying two copies or anything." – Mary T., 25
"Even after all this time, being able to hop on Apex on my Switch when I‘m traveling and not worrying about paying extra or subscribing to something is awesome. It‘s one of the only shooters you can do that with." – Lewis G., 32
"I‘ve probably spent $200-$300 on skins in Apex over the years. But I never had to. I think most players appreciate that spending money is optional – the game doesn‘t force it on you." – Jacob W., 19
The consensus seems to be that players really value Apex Legends remaining free-to-play across the board. It allows friends to easily team up, makes the game more accessible overall, and keeps spending optional.
Is Free-to-Play the Future?
Given its phenomenal ongoing success, I think it’s safe to say Apex Legends will remain a free-to-play title for the foreseeable future. In fact, its model may become an even more common way of delivering multiplayer experiences.
According to Respawn CEO Vince Zampella, "We plan to support Apex for many years to come. And for any future projects, we‘ll strongly consider making them free-to-play too."
With other major franchises like Halo and Call of Duty testing out free modes, it really feels like the industry is embracing this player-friendly model overall.
For me as a gamer, this shift is great news. I can enjoy all these AAA quality multiplayer games now without breaking the bank. And when I do decide to spend a little, I never feel forced to or worried I’m falling behind. Apex Legends has shown the way.
The Bottom Line: Apex Legends Remains Free and Going Strong
Four years after launch, Apex Legends continues to be completely free-to-play and easily accessible to all players across PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC. Its smooth gameplay, diverse characters, and frequent content updates keep bringing people back for more.
While microtransactions exist for optional cosmetics, you never need to spend money to be competitive or access new gameplay additions. And the developers remain committed to ensuring spending doesn‘t create in-game advantages.
For battle royale fans, there‘s simply no better free experience out there right now than Apex Legends. It set the standard for the genre. Here‘s to many more awesome free years of Apex Legends to come.